Newham Council decides to partially close the Atherton

Newham Council confirmed the partial closure of the Atherton Leisure Centre as residents threaten legal action over the decision.

Mayor Sir Robin Wales announced the closure at a meeting of the full council at Newham Town Hall to allow asbestos removal in the 1930s building on Romford Road, Stratford.

The council also begun a selection process for a development partner and promised no contract would be signed about the Atherton’s future until a 12 week public consultation of street surveys, focus groups and an online questionnaire have been completed.

But the Save the Atherton Campaign remain unconvinced, expressing their outrage at being unable to speak at the meeting.

According to the council’s Petitions Scheme, the organiser of any campaign that gathers 1,000 signatures should be invited to speak in front of the full council.

The Save the Atherton campaign amassed 5,200 signatures but they were not invited because they have threatened legal action over the leisure centre’s closure.

Simon Shaw, speaking on behalf of the Campaign, said: “The Save The Atherton Campaign has not given up, and we will be mounting a legal challenge.

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“We remain angry that the council can flout its own rules and refuse us the right to address the full council, having delivered the biggest petition in recent history - 5,200 names. No other petition has come near the 1,000 names required to trigger a debate.”

A spokesman for Newham Council said: “However as the topic of this petition is the subject of threatened legal action, any consideration of it, if still live, will be scheduled once any threat or actual legal action has been concluded. We have notified the petitioner of this decision.”

The main pool has been closed since May but the gym and free weights area will remain open until at least the end of June, while the training pool, sports hall and studio will close at the end of the year.

The decision follows a report which concluded that a new centre would be cheaper than repairing and maintaining the Atherton.

All GLL-run swimming lessons have been relocated in the borough and most schools have made alternative arrangements.